This Little Light of Mine
“But flee from these things, you man of God, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness.” (1 Timothy 6:11 NASB 1995)
I recently had the opportunity to do something I had never dreamed of doing – the opportunity to take an entire month off from all responsibilities and do whatever I wanted to do. Schedules and responsibilities aligned, and for the month of August, I did as little or as much of what I wanted as I could stand, all with the goal of pulling back, resting up from a very difficult and trying time in my life, and rediscovering what was important, at least for me.
A good friend helped me kick the month off by lending me his family’s hunting cabin for the first week of that month. All alone in the mountains – just me, a quiet meadow, lots of wildlife, and my wandering thoughts – I did almost nothing for the first three days but stare at the view and eat and drink just enough to survive. I wanted all my attention to be on mental, physical, and emotional rest.
And rest, I did. After those first few days, with my mind and body becoming refreshed, I began to contemplate where I was in life and where I wanted to go next. The last few years had been full of work, school, home repair/remodeling, and volunteer efforts to such a point that I had nearly exhausted my proverbial “give-a-dang.” While I knew that I wasn’t in the best place mentally and emotionally to deal with life, I was just too tired to care.
So there, in the silence of my retreat and with almost no distractions except the occasional deer or bear, I believe God began to whisper to me in that still small voice (1 Kings 19:12). In the quiet of the mountain solitude, I began to learn a lot, not just about myself, but also I think I started to understand more of what is important to God, especially when it pertains to his children and how they live their lives.
While I won’t share everything I heard on my personal “holy mountain experience,” there was one verse from the Bible that kept coming into my consciousness and nagging at me:
“But godliness with contentment is great gain.”(1 Timothy 6:6 ESV).
I thought and thought about this Scripture that I had read but never really given much thought before. The truth was, that while I could have made a pretty good guess at what the apostle meant by his use of the word “contentment,” I was unsure what Paul meant by his use of the word “godliness.” Is he saying we are to be godly? If so, are we supposed to act like God? And if that’s the case, what is he like that can be conveyed over to a man’s life?
Ultimately, I found the answers to these questions are throughout Scripture. But just skimming through the pages of the Bible didn’t cut it. God wanted me, wants us, to hunger and thirst for his truth and his righteousness, his way of doing things (see Matthew 5:6). One place I found online that confirmed my feeling about the importance of godliness and contentment, was a website that does a good job of answering difficult, biblical questions for folks. You can find their comments about this topic (and many others) by visiting here.
I also dug through my own study tools on the word “godliness.” In one of my favorite reference books, the Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old & New Testament Words, I found a bit more on this particular word:
Godliness, Godly ; Greek Noun: eusebeia
from eu, “well,” and sebomai, “to be devout,” denotes that piety which, characterized by a Godward attitude, does that which is well-pleasing to Him.
While I like that definition, and it helped to clarify the word, it brought out a much more troubling truth. I began to get honest with myself and recognize that I don’t always have a godward attitude, nor do I always seek to do that which is well-pleasing to him.
On top of that, anyone who knows me well would tell you I don’t have a very content disposition. I’m always striving towards something more or something different, never satisfied with where I am, what I am doing, or in what condition I find myself. Once I have what I want, I want something else. It’s painful to confess that, I’ll admit.
There in the mountains, I realized that it is important to God that I am content and that I live a holy life. He will provide all I need and much of what I want if I give him this little life and trust him. For he says, to save my life is to lose it, but to lose it for his sake, is to save it (Luke 9:24). I know it’s counter-cultural, but it’s a god-kind-of truth, nonetheless.
Finally, I’m grateful that God didn’t leave me on my sabbatical with just a verse he wanted me to focus on in my life, but thankfully he also reminded me that he is the one who empowers me (and all those who call on him) to live the life he calls us to. We end where we began this “godly pursuit,” in the scriptures, “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3 ESV), and “For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him” (Philippians. 2:13 NLT).